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Tour de force through the history of the University

For the anniversary year: Catalog for the Freiburg Uniseum


FREIBURG. The founding of the three-year-old Freiburg University Museum - Uniseum for short - dates back to 1999. It was then, while shaving in the morning, that he had the idea of founding a museum dedicated to the history of the University and science, recalls rector Wolfgang Jäger. Five years later, the Uniseum was launched in the "Old University" in the street Bertoldstrasse. According to Jäger, it was not only intended to be a "showcase for our development" and a "place of teaching", but also to help create a corporate identity along the lines of the American model.

A few weeks ago, just in time for the anniversary celebrations, the second construction phase was completed, increasing the exhibition area to around 1,000 square meters. In the newly opened historic vaulted cellar, also called Bursenkeller, whose masonry is dated in parts to the 12th century, student life is depicted in excerpts.

The completion of this second expansion phase was accompanied by the overdue publication of an illustrated book based on the structure and design of the Uniseum. It was written by Dieter Speck, director of the University Archive and member of the Uniseum Board of Directors. He considers the book as an exhibition catalog in the original sense and refrains from in-depth essays as well as from a detailed presentation of the university history. Instead, he focuses on the most important exhibits of the Uniseum in color photographs and provides them with short accompanying texts: seals and coats of arms, chalices and maps, figurines and furniture, paintings and photographs. Speck has arranged the clearly designed accompanying book chronologically, beginning with the founding of the University by Archduke Albrecht VI on September 21, 1457, and the start of lectures.

The catalog is a beautiful tour de force through the centuries up to the 19th century, at the beginning of which the existence of the University was threatened. Of course, a chapter is also devoted to the Nazi era and the reconstruction after the Second World War: the fates of persecuted professors are touched on here, as are topics such as forced labor and the role of the University in medical and defense experiments.


 Frank Zimmermann

Published in German in the newspaper BZ on May 04, 2007